Imaging of undocumented migrants

Imaging of undocumented migrants

This project is a collaboration between ZIN TV, Samenlevingsopbouw Brussel/project Meeting and Pigment vzw. From the observation that the imaging of undocumented migrants in the media is often negative and incomplete, these 3 organizations joined forces. The current imaging of undocumented migrants contributes to the structural stigmatization of this extremely vulnerable group; hence the importance of changing this.

Contrary to what is usually done in the media –undocumented migrants are often the debate topic but rarely the conversation partner-, we took a closer look at the Belgian media with a group of undocumented migrants. We focused mainly on television news (RTBF and VRT) because this is one of the main sources of information for many people.

In 2019, we organized several workshops in which we analyzed media clips. The group went through a process of collective reflection on how undocumented migrants are portrayed in the media. Answers were sought to a number of key questions. What does the current image look like? Do you recognize yourself in the image that is being portrayed? What influence does the imaging have on your daily life? With what images and words would you yourself like to be described? What about the independence of the media? What suggestions would you like to make to the media?

The resulting publication is both a representation of the process that was run with the group and a pedagogical tool to work with groups on the image of undocumented migrants in the media. There is a French and a Dutch version. The brochure serves as educational material to raise awareness among schoolchildren and students as well as policy makers, institutions, citizens and civil society about the place of irregular migrants in our society.

The intention was to organize a public event in the spring of 2020 to introduce the publication to as wide an audience as possible. Workshops would be held where the core group that participated in the project would discuss their findings with interested parties and where experts would shed their light on the theme of imaging. However, the Corona crisis threw a spanner in the works. Out of necessity, we sent the publication out into the world through a digital presentation on December 18, 2020, International Migrant Day.

You can download the brochure and the accompanying video clips here, as well as watch a video that gives an impression of this project.

NL: Propaganda in slow motion – Beeldvorming van mensen zonder wettig verblijf in de media


Would you like a paper version of the brochure? You can pick up a copy at Voyaach, Oppemstraat 54 in 1000 Brussels during office hours. Or you can request a copy by mail from our partner Bruxelles Mobilité at We can then send you a copy by post.

Analysis 1 :

Analysis 2: Password: PAR3 (Video in french)

Analysis 3: Password: PAR3 (video in french)

Analysis 4:
Additional video, to continue the reflection:  (only french)

FR:  La propagande au ralenti – La représentation médiatique des personnes en séjour irrégulier


Analysis 1:
Analysis 2:
Analysis 3 :
Analysis 4 :
Paswoord : PAR3

Contact person

Nele Verbist

Presentation cooperation partners

ZIN TV is a Brussels-based media education organization. Not only do they give a voice to groups of people who usually do not have the opportunity to express themselves on camera, but they also train them so that they can address the issues that concern them in their own way. In this way they create an ‘alternative media’, which, away from institutional frameworks, brings into view what really concerns the citizens. They have already published two volumes of ‘Propaganda in slow motion’.

Samenlevingsopbouw Brussel defends the fundamental rights of all inhabitants of Brussels. Within the ‘Meeting’ project, professional support is offered to undocumented migrants by identifying and addressing collective problems, and thus developing sustainable and structural solutions.

Piment vzw is a Brussels-based association “Waar de Armen het woord nemen”. The main mission of Pigment vzw is to raise awareness about poverty and to change policy, civil society and society in function of the fight against poverty, based on the experiences of people living in poverty.

With the support of

la Commission Communautaire Française de la région de Bruxelles Capitale